Mayoral candidate Kevin James has taken some heat over the financial support he's received from Harold Simmons, the right-wing Texas billionaire who has spent $600,000 backing his campaign, and who thinks President Obama is “the most dangerous American alive.”
In response, James has argued that the media has unfairly focused on Simmons while ignoring the other, Democratic contributor to the Better Way L.A. committee — Henry Crown & Co. — which has spent a lot of money backing Obama.
“It's truly a bipartisan PAC,” James said at a debate on Feb. 4.
Turns out: no.
The Crown family is worth several billion dollars, according to published reports, and they are active in political giving. James Crown, the president of Henry Crown & Co., lives in Chicago and is indeed a major Democratic contributor. He was a “bundler” for Obama.
However, the connection to Kevin James is through his sister, Janet Crown.
She lives in Los Angeles and is also a major Obama supporter. But her husband, Steve Robinson, is more conservative. Robinson became a fan of Kevin James by listening to his radio show — and he's the one who arranged for the $100,000 contribution in the name of Henry Crown & Co.
“It's all from Steve Robinson,” said Fred Davis, the Republican consultant who set up the Better Way L.A. committee. “He's a big Kevin James fan… I think he's a Republican. He's certainly fiscally conservative.”
Robinson is listed as the treasurer of the Better Way L.A. committee. Contribution records indicate that he gave $1,700 to John McCain's campaign in 2008.
At the Feb. 4 debate, moderator Dave Bryan challenged James over Simmons' remarks about Obama. James stressed that he is a non-partisan candidate, before turning to the PAC's fundraising.
“You referenced the conservative side, Harold Simmons,” James said. “There's also a side that for some reason, you folks in the media don't want to talk about… I would encourage those of you in the media and those of you at home to look up Henry Crown & Co. They're the fourth largest donor in America to President Obama, in 2008 and 2012. It is truly a bipartisan PAC that is supporting a non-partisan candidate.”
On Tuesday, James said he was not aware that Steve Robinson was the contact for the Henry Crown contribution. He said he relied on the L.A. Times to obtain information about the contributors to the independent committee. He did acknowledge that he knows Robinson, and knows he is married to Janet Crown.
“(Robinson) is familiar with me because of my radio show,” James said. “I don't know his party registration… I would venture to say he's a fiscally conservative guy.”
Robinson did not return a call or an e-mail seeking comment.